Cultural Competency Seminar – Social Justice and Microaggressions

>>Vernon Wall is a leader in social justice
who was revered for his impact on various aspects within higher education. And he holds a cultural competency seminar. This video includes Wall’s address, followed
by a video about microaggressions and how they affect students, faculty and staff within
the campus community. Participants give in-depth examples of when
they were faced with microaggressions inside and outside of their respective institutions. Then you will hear from our dean of students
and vice-president for student affairs, Dr. Rick Gatteau. He will discuss how microaggressions impede
students, faculty and staff from truly engaging in healthy and sustaining relationships. It’s important to be aware of our personal
biases and to hold ourselves accountable for unintentionally offending or disrespecting
someone. This is a learning process that will involve
making mistakes. But in time, we can learn from those mistakes
and look for opportunities to learn more about our neighbors and grow as students, faculty
and staff at Stony Brook. [ Applause ]>>So I’ve got to begin by saying that I’ve
been on a lot of campuses. I’ve been doing this work for a while, and
I will say that there are not many campuses that I have been on that have the commitment
that Stony Brook has to bring you together to have a conversation about community and
who you are in this world, and I just thing, I just want you to soak that in. I mean this is big. I mean for me to see you here says a lot for
this campus and a lot for this community. And I know you were volun-told to be here
too, so I get that. So I get that. But I will say that it’s so important for
you to know that it’s about us being a community. My favorite quote by Dr. Martin Luther King,
Jr. will always be injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice
everywhere. I was on a campus recently and a group of
students took me out to dinner the night before my presentation. And we were sitting at this big table, and
I was like, free food, yeah, I’m going. And so, and I was excited to be there with
them, and we were having a great conversation, and I was, and one student leaned into me
and said, Vernon, where did your passion for social justice come from? Why is this important to you? And I’m like, oh, okay, didn’t know I was
going to be quizzed. I said okay. So I started thinking about some of the people
that came before me, the shoulders that I stand on, the folks who have mentored me who
have made me who I am today. And they said no, Vernon, where did your passion
for social justice come from? So I thought oh, maybe they want academic
stuff. So I started thinking about well, I’ve written
some articles been a part of some presentation, the work that I do. And this student leaned in and said, shut
up, Vernon. Where did your passion for social justice
come from? And the whole table looked at me, and I thought
well, if I’m honest with myself, I need to say that I blame my parents for this. I blame them. I want to introduce you to Ward and Earnestine
Wall. What you need to know about Ward and Earnestine
Wall is they were both brand new teachers in a high school in North Carolina, very first
day of class, brand new teachers. My dad walked around the corner, Mom walked
around, they ran into each other. Mom dropped her papers. Dad reached down to pick them up. They locked eyes. They stood up, walked away. My dad thought to himself, I’m going to marry
that woman one day. My mom thought to herself, that is the most
arrogant man I’ve ever met in my entire life. So I want you to fast forward to the, to a
dance that was happening a month later in the high school café-gymnatorium, a little
smaller than this. Much smaller than this. And I want you to imagine that they are, there’s
a dance going on, and all of a sudden there is a, it does sound like a Lifetime movie,
doesn’t it. There’s a, Mom’s on one side of the room. Dad’s on the other side of the room. One student goes and grabs Mom’s hand, one
student goes and grabs Dad’s hand and brings them to the center of the dance floor of the
café-gymnatorium with the disco ball lit, and they danced for the first time. And then bam, I was born. Okay, not that quickly, not on that dance
floor. But the reason I’m telling you this story
is because growing up, the day after Thanksgiving was called D-Day in our house. And what that meant is, I’m the first of the
three. I’m the oldest of three. I have a brother and a sister who’s younger. And the day after Thanksgiving was called
D-Day, and the reason why it was called D-Day was because it was, we knew that from the
day after Thanksgiving until January 10th we had to keep the house immaculate. It had to be clean. And I’d look at my brother and go, you know
what this means. It means every morning we had to clean, it
was just, it had to be immaculate. And the reason for this is because, and I
can remember this is as, I mean as early as maybe six, seven years old. Every year, former students of my parents
come by the house. And it’s like a revolving door from the day
after Thanksgiving until January 10th. And I do believe that seeing all of those
people, even to this day when I go home, former students drop by and talk about their successes,
their struggles. They update them on their families. They show pictures, and they do this every
year. And I do believe that that vision of seeing
hundreds of people and thousands of people coming through our house, all different colors,
backgrounds, nationalities, genders, gender identities before I even knew what that was. I do believe as a young child growing up,
that’s something I remember. And I believe that that’s really why this
is important to me. And I believe every one of us in this room
has a story of something similar. Of why do you care about the people around
you? What is it about you? And so what I would need for you to do for
a quick, a very quick two minutes is find somebody either in front of you or behind
you, not necessarily someone that came in with you. But it’d be good to meet somebody either in
front of you or behind of you, one other person, and I want you to share a similar story. What’s the story from your past, your background,
your history, your culture, who you are, that makes this really and truly this day be important
to you? Why is it important that other people matter
on campus and in our community? So, you’ve got two minutes. Find somebody in front of you or behind you,
start talking. So thank you. Wow, you all got into that. The reason why I love this is because, as
I mentioned, everybody in this room has a story. And everyone’s story is so unique and so amazing. And that’s the reason this campus community
is what it is is because you bring in who you are at all times. I will say, I’ll tell you a quick story. I did my, I used my iPhone, I’ve got a new
iPhone 10, and you know, it has face recognition. And I don’t know how those of you that have
it, have you noticed that in the mornings the face recognition does not work? I’m like that is rude. I’m like, I go, no, no, uh-huh. I’m like really? Really? I do want to thank you for being here. Today is really, I’m just going to be here
to sort of guide the day, the morning. And it’s really just going to be about us
having some conversations. You’re going to hear from some folks who are
really and truly committed to having you have great conversations. You’ve heard from your president. I really believe that what this is going to
be, it’s just an opportunity for you to just sit back, really think about, so what does
this mean to you? How does this, think about your role on campus
and how you interact with each other and with students. What does that mean, because it is a truly
amazing time to be here. I do want to make sure before I move to a
little video we have for you is I want to make sure we ground ourselves in this term
social justice, because I think a lot of people are using this term. I mean there is a lot of misconceptions in
my mind about this whole term social justice. And I just want to make sure that you know
when I do anything on a college campus, I always start off with this definition so we’re
grounded in the same thing, and that is social justice is both a process and a goal. The goal of social justice education is full
and equal participation of all groups in a society that is mutually shaped to meet their
needs. Social justice includes a vision of society
that is equitable, and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure. What I love about this definition is everybody
in this room is in this definition. We are all in this definition. The key is to find out how do we make this
become a reality in terms of who we are, in terms of our identities. How do we make this really come alive at Stony
Brook? And I love the term equity because I use that
all the time. I remember growing up saying all people should
be created equally. And I’m thinking, well wait a minute, it’s
about equity, because in my mind, equal would be if I said everybody in this room deserves
shoes. Equity would be if I said everybody in this
room deserves shoes that fit. Equal, equity. What can I do to make sure your experience
as my colleague, as a student on this campus, can be the best it can possibly be based on
all your identities and who you are? Now what’s interesting too is I think that
there are many things that sometimes hinder us from making this become a reality. There are some things that hinder us from
making this become a reality. And one of the things is this whole concept
around microaggressions. So what we’d like to do is show you a little
video that sort of gives you some context in this term microaggressions. [ Music ]>>Think about a time when someone said something
about some aspect of your identity that made you feel insulted or slighted, even if they
didn’t intend it. You probably experienced a microaggression.>>A microaggression is something that someone
says to someone else without knowing that it may be offensive.>>It hurts. That’s how I know it’s a microaggression,
because it feels disrespectful.>>And it’s not like outright racism, but
it’s something that is like almost unconscious in the way that you view people.>>Most microaggressions are subtle and indirect. But they occur frequently in the daily interactions
of members of historically underrepresented groups. And most often people who commit microaggressions
think of themselves as well-intentioned, nonracist, nonsexist people. They do not realize that the underlying messages
communicated by their actions or comments are hurtful to other people.>>One of my friends asked if my parents had
their papers.>>I had a science teacher, a physics teacher,
and he told me that I was the smartest black girl in his class.>>I’ve been asked if I understood what they
were talking about or like do you need any translation stuff just based on my name.>>Like, you know, I’m not the spokesperson
for the whole black community, you know, but that’s a microaggression I do experience a
lot. Like they want the black perspective. And I’m usually the only black girl in the
class, so it’s like okay, what’s your take on this?>>Oftentimes I get asked like do you know
how to speak your native language, and when I answer I do, it’s just like they’re like
okay, well what does chenchaw [phonetic] mean?>>There are three types of microaggressions,
microassaults, microinsults and microinvalidations. A microassault is similar to what we think
of as overt discrimination. In the case of microassaults, those acts are
intentional.>>I was a server for a long time, and if
anyone else was, you know this. In the back of the kitchen like when someone
gets a table of like say Indian people, I hope this is PC. I don’t know all the terms. But like Indian people or black people or
anyone, they’d be like who wants that table. I don’t want it. They’re not going to tip. And my heart would break every time.>>I used to be a server too, and I hated
it because I was like the only person of like, you know, any type of race other than white. I remember coming in and they’d be like, oh,
Danielle, you get that table of raccoons. And I was like what? And they were like, yeah. And then I would go and I’m like, they’re
black people. And wait, is that what you call black people? You call them raccoons?>>A microassault can be the deliberate posting
of swastikas, confederate flags, racial slurs or epithets that are left on a blackboard
in a classroom.>>I work as a research assistant and so a
while ago, one of the new, our new RAs when I was a few months into it, came up to me
and just mentioned that, you know, we’d known each for months at that point. You know, you’re the least scary black guy
that I ever met. You know, and the way that I dressed, the
way that I talked, the way that I speak, I kind of tailored that over the course of my
education to be nonthreatening.>>I will literally have like my keys in my
hand, like they’re always rude to me, and I would like jingle them as I’m walking so
that they know that I know that I’m there. So that we both know, I’m right here, and
I’m not going to try and do anything to be stupid. But on that note, there’s also the stigma
that like we’re aggressive and intimidating.>>It’s sad you have to make sure you let
people know you’re not a threat. And that’s the objective.>>One of my friends commented to me, he said
you know, I don’t really even think you’re black. You know, you’re, and I was like what? I was like what do you mean? He was like I mean, you’re smart. You do your work. Yes, you’re athletic, but you do your work,
you’re smart. So I don’t really know if you’re black. I was like, I didn’t understand. Made me question who I was and if I was still
part of the culture.>>And that’s an example of microinvalidation
and a microinsult. And we’ll talk about those a little bit more. A microinsult is a comment that communicates
the demographic group is not respected. That that person is a slight exception to
the stereotype. It’s an insult, even though the perpetrator
thinks he has just rendered a compliment.>>Well, here at UNT I’ve heard, you’re so
pretty for a black girl. I feel like it discounts me as a person, and
then I feel like it discounts my race. I feel like it can be pretty just because
you’re a woman or, you know, or all black women are beautiful. All people of color are beautiful. Just the same as people that are not people
of color. So for them to make that specific statement,
that’s what’s, what in you made you say that to me as if it were a compliment?>>So another type of microinsult is when
students in the classroom are dismissed or treated almost as if they’re invisible. For instance, in some of our sciences or engineering
classes, there are few women. And professors often don’t call on those women.>>I had one instance in a statistics-based
class where we were, we were discussing something bell curve-related, and he presented a question,
and I don’t remember exactly what the answer was, but I answered it. And he kind of doubted me. And he very condescendingly was just like,
oh, okay. Well I mean like, this is the best answer,
but I guess your answer could be right. You know what, we’ll ask, it was a grad student. He was like you know what, we’ll ask Dr. so
and so and see what he things the best answer is. And there was no apology or anything. He was just like oh yeah, Dr. so and so said
that yeah, that was actually a really acceptable answer. And I was just like okay. What else is he going to doubt me on, and
what else am I going to be called out in front of 70 other people, you know, and have a weird
exchange that makes the whole room quite like?>>One of my sciences classes, my teacher
had asked what I wanted to do, and I told the teacher that I wanted to be a psychiatrist. And immediately they’re like, that’s too hard
for you. Maybe you should try a different field, or
have you ever thought about being a nurse or being a nurse practitioner? Nurse practitioners in psychiatry, they make
a lot of money too. Have you thought about that? Like why go to med school? Genuinely, sometimes somebody might feel like
they can’t make it, you know. And then when you continue to tell them that,
it does hurt, you know.>>I’ve had a lot of professors tell me to
my face that they’re surprised that I was as good a student as I was and that I pay
attention in class and actually participated. And when I ask why, they said, well you know,
you just come off as a troublemaker. And you have all these piercings and short
hair as a girl, tattoos. And we just naturally assume that you weren’t
really going to be any good. [ Music ]>>Another type of microinsult is when a professor
says to a student, wow, you speak really good English. The message is, the professor thinks I don’t
really belong here or that I’m not really American. Of course I speak good English. I was born in the United States. But the professors sees a Latina or an Asian
and makes the assumption that that person is foreign. Or at least that is what the target hears. What is the underlying message when you’re
asked, when somebody asks if you’re legal?>>That you don’t belong to this country.>>That you don’t belong. That’s right. [ Music ]>>We were walking in the gym once, and I
had to hand the person my ID, and he was looking at my name and everything and he was like,
what are you? And I was like well, what are you asking? Well, what nationality are you? I was like okay, I’m Lebanese, I’m Arab.>>He was like, you aren’t one of those that
blow things up are you? No offense, though. What kind of crazy stuff you ask someone? Like, you hear what I’m saying?>>And I was just really surprised. Like it totally blew my mind that someone
would think that.>>The assumptions I get the most is that
I’m very academic and that I’m very good at math. When they assume stuff like that, it makes
me feel like they’re taking the individual of who I am and just assuming that all the
people who look like me act like me. And that kind of makes me feel lesser of what
I can do.>>The teacher was asking if someone could
translate something, you know, in Spanish, because he was giving an example. And he needed this one word to be translated
in Spanish. And he just stared at me specifically when
he was asking. And he like, I knew we were making eye contact,
because after, like I seemed quiet because I’m pretty sure there’s other people in this
class that know Spanish. But he just kept staring at me. And at some point, the rest of the class turned
to look at me, like waiting for a response. And I was like, I’m going to give you guys
an answer. Like, it’s not okay.>>Our teacher pulled me aside because they
were doing something for Christmas, like Toys for Tots or something. And he had this, they had a bicycle they were
going to give to the kids, and you know, he came up to me and was like hey, I need to
switch out the seats on this bike, and it seems like somebody like you would know how
to do that. So, if you could just change it out for me,
that’d be great. And so I was like okay, sure, not really thinking
much of it. And then later on I kind of thought to myself,
that’s odd. Why would he assume that he knew personally
how to switch, you know, a bike seat? You know, so I thought that was an odd kind
of maybe a microinsult on the fact that he assumed just because maybe that I’m Latino
that I’m good with my hands or something like that.>>A microinvalidation is a comment or action
that dismisses the experiences of historically disadvantaged group members. Microinvalidations can happen when, for instance,
when a student is lamenting that she wishes they were Latina faculty, for instance. And the students in the class start rolling
their eyes or oh, come on. Get over it. And the professor goes along with the students
instead of with the person who made the lament. Another type of microinvalidation, one that
we hear a lot about today, is being colorblind. When people say, I don’t notice you’re black. I don’t notice you’re Latina. I don’t see color. What does that mean? How do you interpret that? What are people saying when they say, I don’t
notice your race. I don’t see color. How do you interpret that?>>They’re just trying to say they’re not
racist. That they don’t look at that side of you and
they just want to validate you as a person. But it comes off wrong because it’s like your
race is very much who you are as an individual.>>In a lot of my many classes, I have to
do writings. And it’s just professors seem to be like don’t
want to hurt my feelings because I’m an international student. So my English is not that good, especially
with my writing. So they let me go easy, like I just feel like
they have different expectations for international student and just American students. Like a lot of feedback I get from like my
writings is just like, not real meaningful, because I just feel like they try not to hurt
my feelings. Try to like, try to go easy on me. But then by doing that, I just feel like it
takes to my like development, like my learning, my writing and arts.>>So I know that the, the video was very
specific around a classroom experience, but I need for you to think broadly about this
whole term around microaggressions and around interactions and around engagement. What does it mean? What does it look like? How have we been involved in things? And what I love about the video is the fact
that it talked about the majority of times when things happen on a campus that may be
seen as a microaggression, it’s never in malicious intent. And so I always tell people that we get this. And sometimes when we show things like this
and we have conversation about this, sometimes I know for me personally, my response is well
shoot, what the hell am I going to say to people? Is everybody going to get like offended by
everything that I say? And what I go to when I do that is to remind
myself well wait a minute, my job is to minimize as much as I possibly can the negative impact
I can have on someone else. Because the reality is I’m going to say something
that will maybe unintentionally marginalize someone or unintentionally hurt someone. It’s going to happen, because I’m a human
in the world. And if in my mind though I’m thinking what
can I do to minimize the times that I do unintentionally marginalize folks. And am I in relationship with individuals
so that I can have a conversation when something happens that may be unintentional, which is
really important. I really want to make sure, I’m really excited
about this. So, we get to do some technology now. So get your phones, if you do have them and
you would like to participate. If not, you can just kind of engage in other
ways. We’re going to have a couple of polling questions. We’ve got three polling questions that we
want to get a sense from you. And so, we’ll start up with the first one. Thinking about the things that were shared
in terms of microaggression, in the workplace, as you hear from students, as you engage,
as you work with colleagues, first one, just, you know, are you familiar with these types
of incidents? Yes, no or I don’t know. And we will see some population of those pieces. Okay. All right. Wasn’t that cool? That was very cool. That was very cool. I like it. I’m pretty excited about this. You can tell. You can tell. What is really interesting to me is I really
think it’s important for you to know, we see these, we’re involved in these, we hear these. They key is, once again, what can we do in
order to minimize the opportunities that we have and also to maximize our impact on others
in really positive ways. I think that a lot of times when we hear things
around microaggressions, we don’t hear the other side, which is the times when we are
in engaging in wonderful ways with colleagues and friends and students. And I think that, I want to make sure that
you honor the fact that for students to be a part of that video, to share those pieces,
were because you have made environments connected for them in ways where they can share those
things. Second question. Have you witnessed any of these incidents? Yes, no, I don’t know. Let’s see what we got. I wish we could visually see all of the data
that’s coming in, you know, like visually around. Did that make any sense? No, okay. Yes, no. So we know that, we know that they’re happening. We’re seeing them. I think many of you in this room, and you
know, feel free to participate if you’d like. But I’d love to know how many of you have
had a colleague or a student say something to you, tell you that something happened to
you that they felt that it was a microaggression in some sort of way? Anybody have somebody personally tell you,
this is what happened to me. This has been my lived experience, this is
something, absolutely. And I think that it’s really, the fact that
they did share with you that means that there’s a relationship and a connection there, and
you’re building community in that way. Third question. What did you do? Did you intervene? You discussed it with a colleague. You reported it. You didn’t know what to do. What you got? Okay. It seems that many of you feel like you did
discuss it with colleagues. Others said you really didn’t know what to
do. And then some intervened. And then some reported. I think I love, I really am really intrigued
by the piece around number one, I’m excited that folks did intervene at certain times. But I want you to know that those of you that
said you didn’t know what to do, you’re not alone. You’re not alone. I mean I know that there’s been many situations
where I’ve been in where I’ve been in the moment, and in that moment I’ve really not
known what to do. And I think it’s okay to be able to be in
a space of just listening and engaging. Sometimes I think we don’t see that listening
is something that’s really important. The fact that you’re there for that person
and you’re here, and I don’t know about you but sometimes I don’t know if I really want
someone to intervene for me or to have a response when I have something happen to me. Sometimes I just want somebody to just hear
me share out loud. And I do believe that it’s also important
for you to know that there are resources on campus where you can have conversations with
folks and know that there are ways in which you could be more effective. And what does that look like for you personally? What does that mean? We want to make sure that we bring invoices
of students. And so we’ve asked Rick Gatteau, interim vice-president
for student affairs and dean of students to come up and share a little bit about bringing
some student voices into the conversation. [ Applause ]>>Thank you. Well good morning everyone. It’s great to be here. Please don’t be disappointed though. I know I have my, what we’re calling the Madonna
mike. I can’t sing, so I’m not part of the halftime
show. But what I will be doing is guiding us for
the next ten minutes or so. And what I’d like to do is start asking us
to reflect a bit on the stories that we saw in the video on microaggressions and pose
the question here, how can we promote a respectful and caring community here at Stony Brook? And as Vernon mentioned, to answer that question,
we thought it was important to ask for examples from students within our own community here
at Stony Brook. So was asked some of our undergraduate and
graduate students to share their stories with us because we wanted to hear about their experience
at Stony Brook, both positive and negative. So what I’m going to do this morning is share
six brief stories with you. And what I’m going to ask also is at the end
of each story, I’m going to ask you to think, to think about the situation and think about
what would you do in that situation? And then I’m going to pause for about ten
seconds to give us time to reflect. Everyone ready? So here is our first story. A new student is registered with a student
accessibility support center and is the first scholar with this disability to be joining
this degree program. The program staff, from the earliest recruitment
stages through the full degree pursuit created many opportunities for conversation and guidance
to ensure that the student did not need to fight for accommodations. So clearly, this is a positive example shared
by a student. It reflects on important themes, communication,
support and guidance. And I’d like to ask you to think for a minute
about a time when a student approached you for help. Think when they asked you for help. How did you interact with that student? What did you say to that student to gain the
student’s trust and confidence? And our second example. Prior to submitting their first written project,
a student for whom English is their second language was told by a faculty member to make
sure the written assignments, “Do not contain any Spanglish.” So here in the word Spanglish being used by
the faculty member, now Spanglish is often referred to as combining elements of both
the English and Spanish language. But in this example, I think it’s truly the
context that matters, because maybe it was said by the faculty member in jest, but it’s
clear it was presented negatively to the student where the student felt less than and likely
felt singled out. So in this situation, what could the professor
had done or said differently to communicate expectations. Think about that. In our next example, a white professor made
mention that they know what it’s like to be a minority because they grew up in a predominantly
black area and was made fun of for being white. The student brought to the professor’s attention
that their experience, while sad, is a false equivalence to the experience of underrepresented
individuals. Though here in this story, it may be that
the professor was trying to be relatable to the student, trying to make a connection or
find a commonality. But it was heard by the student very differently. In this case, what could the professor have
said differently to better connect with the student? In our next example, a student was interacting
with faculty and staff at an event that celebrated food from their culture. After learning how to make some dishes, the
group ate the prepared food. The food was very spicy, but the student grew
up eating spicy food. One of the people present said, you people
must have a genetic mutation or something. The student knows the person didn’t mean anything
malicious by the comment but has been mocked in the past for their cultural food. So clearly, in this example, I think we’d
all agree the term you people was very derogatory. Again, maybe it was said as a joke, but in
fact, it was really a put down to the student. So we need to consider how we communicate
our messages to students. In this case, what could the faculty or staff
member have said differently? Think about that. Our fifth story. A student was asked how their parents could
afford to send them to Stony Brook University given that they are an international student
from Africa. As was evidenced in the videos we saw earlier,
this is a story where assumptions and stereotypes are made and shared. And clearly, I carry assumptions, we all carry
assumptions and prejudices with us each day. And the important thing is to continually
check those assumptions and not make generalizations. And in this case, it’s likely the student
found the comment both insulting and insensitive. So what could the person have said in this
situation without making an assumption? In our final story, a student informed her
faculty advisor that she was expecting and would be utilizing the pregnancy accommodation
policy. The faculty advisor expressed commitment and
support to the student. The faculty member contacted and met with
administrators to be versed in the process. The advisor worked with the student throughout
the time leading to and after childbirth to ensure that project timelines were clear and
goals were met. Again, in this example we’re ending with a
positive story. And what was good in this case? Clearly, there are themes of support, communication,
understanding expectations and gaining knowledge about these important issues, which I think
are all important roles of our work with educators. And in these six stories from our students,
ensuring that the work we do is always student-centered. Students are at the center of everything we
do here at Stony Brook. So, in sharing these stories with you today,
there are a few takeaways that I kind of absorbed from the stories themselves, and I’d like
to share them with you and challenge you to think of other takeaways that I might have
missed. So these four are first, show a genuine interest
in and empathy for others who are different from us. Be aware of preconceived notions about someone’s
background. That goes back to the point made in the video
in these examples about assumptions and biases and stereotypes. Keep an open mind. Listen. Treat others with respect and accept cultural
differences. And finally, rule for my parents, think before
you speak and be mindful of how we phrase questions and comments. I wanted to touch also on what Vernon said
earlier. I think a lot of what we see, we do all make
mistakes. We’re all imperfect people. And we may say things that unintentionally
hurt someone else. But what we want to do, and today’s a really
good point in getting this conversation going, is having a dialogue about it. Because I think the more understanding we
have about the issue, the better opportunity we have to have better connections with our
students. So, as I wrap up my last minute with you this
morning, I wanted to share one last quick story. So earlier in the week I was on a flight,
and on the flight, I had some time, so I was preparing for this session. And I was taking some notes and thinking about
some of the messages I wanted to convey during this time with you. And I wrote some notes and I put them away,
and then I watched one of the in-flight movies, and I watched the movie Won’t You Be My Neighbor. Has anybody seen that movie? Anybody? Okay. Well if you haven’t seen it yet, I highly
recommend it. Now if you’ve read about the movie or seen
the TV show, it’s all about Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. And it’s a show that I grew up watching and
maybe some of you did as well. And I truly couldn’t be more struck by some
of the messages that were shared in that show that relate exactly to what we’re doing here
today, and it’s fascinating to me to think about how the childhood messages he shared
still stand the test of time decades later. And he talked a lot about the inherent value
of each person as a human being. And as you’ve seen Mr. Rogers probably on
TV, he always had this very calm, even tempered tone when he spoke. And there’s one quote he shared in the movie
that I’d like to share with you now. And he said, I think that those who would
try to make you feel less than who you are, that’s the greatest evil. Try to make you feel less than who you are. Think about that. And I’d like to ask each of us to think about
what we can do today to commit to each other and to our students to treat everyone with
respect, dignity and care. Thank you for everything you do to make Stony
Brook a better place. Appreciate it. [ Applause ]>>Please take a moment to watch the various
videos on the chief diversity officer website at And feel free to share your feedback about
what you learned on this site. Thank you.

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